Crewe manager Lee Bell slammed the officials and called for better on-field communication between the referee and his assistants after his side’s 4-2 defeat at Salford.
First-half headers from Courtney Baker-Richardson and Matt Smith meant it was all square at the break, but in the 57th minute Baker-Richardson was flagged for offside – a decision Bell believes the officials got wrong.
It proved costly for Crewe as Smith scored his second just 28 seconds later.
Substitutes Ryan Watson and Kevin Berkoe added two more for Salford before Baker-Richardson pulled one back, but Bell insisted that the result of the game hinged on the offside decision.
He said: “They got it drastically wrong, he’s clearly onside.
“I have quickly got my head around what officiating looks like at this level. But big major turning points that are easily managed should be done better between the two linesmen, the referee and the fourth official.
“That needed the referee to talk to the linesman and say – if you got this spot on then who’s offside? Tell me which player was offside? Because I guarantee when I go and ask him now he won’t give me a response.
“It’s just so hard to take because that decision changed the momentum of the game. We had an opportunity to sit second tonight and that’s been taken away. It’s hard for the players to reset and I feel for them.
“Every time you speak to a fourth official they either threaten you with a yellow card or a red card. They lost control of the game.”
Salford head coach Neil Wood had a different view on the disallowed goal.
Wood said: “I think it’s offside so I think the linesman has it right, and I think the referee has blown for offside.”
After six straight defeats, Salford have now recorded three straight wins to climb to 13th.
Wood added: “We’ve been working hard, trying to integrate the new players and it takes a bit of time. The performances have been getting better.
“Against Newport we stopped the rut and against Sutton in the week I thought we were outstanding. It was similar today, I thought first half we were excellent and didn’t deserve to be 1-0 down.
“We’re disappointed we didn’t score more to be honest but we’re pleased with three wins on the bounce.”
Salford are at home to Stockport on Tuesday in the EFL Trophy in a repeat of last season’s play-off semi-final.
Wood said: “At the moment with all the injuries we don’t have a lot to cope with what Stockport will put out on Tuesday night but we’ll give the young lads the chance to impress.”